Where are they now?

Story by Becky Brown, all photos provided

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Promoting an iconic clothing line. Changing the course of health care. Traveling the world as a nurse. Caring for infants and mothers. It hasn’t taken these four HHS alumni — all previously featured in Life 360 as students — long to make their mark on the world.

From Purdue plaid to Polo

Krizia Phillips

When we met Krizia Phillips (CSR ’13) in the Fall 2013 issue, this designing woman had just won a competition to create Purdue’s official tartan plaid. Her goal then? Head to New York City to work for a designer or as a magazine stylist.

That’s exactly where you’ll find Phillips today, although she’s switched focus from fashion design to marketing. As a global marketing associate for Ralph Lauren, she promotes the brand’s iconic women’s Polo line and supports its Pink Pony philanthropy to raise global awareness of breast cancer.

“In marketing, I still get to be creative,” Phillips says. “The retail industry is always changing, and it’s fascinating to work with clientele in different parts of the world.”

Though she’s put down her needle and thread for now, Phillips still puts her apparel design and technology degree to good use.

“Knowing how to use various design programs is helpful as I assist in creating content for campaigns and social media,” she says. “Understanding textiles, fit and what’s going to look best on our consumer — I thank my Purdue professors every day for what they taught me.”

Leading the charge for change

Eli Mansfield

As a student, Eli Mansfield (HK ’13) put his athletic training skills to work helping members of the Purdue men’s basketball team enhance their performance on the court. Today, he’s working to enhance the performance of the U.S. health care system.

Mansfield, who was featured in the Fall 2013 issue as part of Purdue’s “5 Students Who” campaign, moved to Minneapolis after graduation. While earning a master’s degree in public health administration and policy at the University of Minnesota, he served as an athletic trainer for the Golden Gophers baseball team.

Since then, he’s taken on a series of roles for Park Nicollet Health Services — first as a quality improvement specialist, then earning a one-year administrative fellowship and now leading business development efforts for TRIA Orthopaedic Center.

“What I’m doing today would not be  possible without the education I received and connections I made at Purdue,” Mansfield says, crediting the University’s competitive athletic training program for preparing him to push toward his goal.

“I want to help change the course of health care as a system,” he says, “and the drive cultivated in me at Purdue is what’s going to lead me in that direction.”

Have nursing degree, will travel

John Scherschel

A passion for photography, nature and nursing has taken John Scherschel (NUR ’11) a long way — from West Lafayette to Melbourne, Australia.

Scherschel was the subject of a Winter 2012 article about his undergraduate research exploring the effects of nature photography on patients with chronic diseases. After graduation, he began nursing in a New Jersey emergency department, then moved to Colorado to work in a cardiac intensive care unit.

Today, you’ll find him on the other side of the world. In 2016, Scherschel and his girlfriend — a fellow ICU nurse — applied for working holiday visas. This January, they landed in Melbourne, where Scherschel is an RN at a leading research hospital.

“There were an astonishing number of hoops to jump through, but I was able to transfer my nursing license without examination due to the quality of Purdue’s program,” he says. “It’s impossible to describe the prestige associated with this diploma.”

Scherschel plans to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree on his return to the U.S., but for now he’s enjoying exploring Australia and New Zealand with his camera in tow.

“I haven’t pursued any additional research with photography,” he says, “but I do enjoy taking photos in my leisure time and sharing my outdoor adventures with my patients.”

Finding focus and balance in the delivery room

Lydia Bontrager

Lydia Lochamire Bontrager (HDFS ’14, NUR ’16) also appeared in the Fall 2013 issue’s “5 Students Who” article. At the time, she had plans to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine. Not long after, she began caring for her grandfather at the end of his life — and that led her to rethink her goals.

“I originally thought I’d go to med school,” Bontrager says. “But certain experiences made me realize I’m meant to be a nurse. I need to be at the bedside delivering hands-on care.”

Returning to Purdue, she completed the 15-month accelerated nursing program and was immediately hired as a labor and delivery nurse by Parkview Health in Kendallville, Indiana, where her duties also include postpartum and newborn care — areas she found herself gravitating toward while pursuing her original human development and family studies degree.

“I participated on a research team studying mom-baby relationships,” Bontrager says. “At the time, I had no idea that was preparing me for a future in nursing. Purdue offered me so many opportunities.”

Though she may someday transition to a career in midwifery, Bontrager currently is focused on gaining experience and her own growing family. Married in October 2016, she’s expecting her first baby this November.

“Family is so important to me,” she says, “and I’m happy to have found a career that provides the perfect work-life balance.”